The momentum of one-tonne ute sales in Australia is showing no signs of slowing and the car makers are responding with fresh offerings in a number of segments throughout the next 12 months. In addition to the range of light updates and all-new introductions, other light commercial segments will be included, with electrification starting to proliferate the traditionally diesel-powered realm.
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Here are the key new models to watch out for in 2019.
A major update and facelift of the fifth-generation ute.
It’s not quite a full new model but with more than 2400 changes including new sheet metal, updated six-speed auto, more cabin equipment and safety tech, the 2019 version is significantly different. A new flagship is also expected at a later date bringing a tough truck rival to the Ranger Wildtrak and HSV Sportscat.
Returning South Korean ute brings sharp pricing, neat features and class-leading warranty
After a two-year hiatus, SsangYong is back on Australian turf with a factory backed operation and a four-model assault for its relaunch. Leading that charge is the Musso one tonner, which makes a good case for itself with standard AEB, enticing prices and an unbeatable seven-year warranty.
V6 diesel joins the Mercedes ute range to worry the as-yet unchallenged Volkswagen Amarok
Rivals: Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota Hilux
Due date: January
Until now, Volkswagen has claimed the title as Australia’s most powerful one-tonner, but the arrival of the Mercedes X350d returns V6 fire with 190kW and 550Nm of torque. It’s pricey but the German car maker is kitting it out with the goods to match.
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Iconic workhorse plugs into the 21st century
Rivals: Toyota Hiace, Volkswagen Crafter, Hyundai iLoad, Mercedes Sprinter
Due date: August
It’s not quite confirmed for Australia at the time of writing, but Ford says the first electrified version of the humble Transit in more than half a century is under consideration. If green Transit power gets the green light for local sale, it will touch down in the second half of the year. As for competition, there’s not a lot of electrified commercial vehicle action in Australia with only the Renault Kangoo ZE full EV (and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV at a push) to apply any pressure... for now.
Renault joins the one-tonne ute revolution at last, but is it fashionably late?
Price: $26,000 to $55,000 (estimated)
Rivals: Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Mazda BT-50
Due date: December
After a protracted gestation and a drawn out arrival date, it looks like Renault will finally weigh into the potentially lucrative dual-cab ute contest on red dirt. Like the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the Alaskan also takes its underpinnings from the popular Nissan Navara, and although exact Australian specifications are yet to be confirmed, it’s likely the French contender will offer a high-end version with lots of kit as well as a more affordable workhorse at the entry point.
Baby of the Ram range gets a more manageable thirst without sacrificing grunt
Price: $95,000 (estimate)
Rivals: Ford Ranger Raptor, Chevrolet Silverado, Volkswagen Amarok V6
Due date: January/February
From launch, the smallest Ram in the line-up was available only with gas-guzzling V8 power, which likely put off a few fence-sitting fans. A V6 diesel version is on the way and it compromises little for the extra efficiency. Exact output figures are yet to be finalised for the Australian launch but the 3.0-litre V6 turbocharged diesel could produce up to 200kW and 600Nm. That compares with the current 5.7-litre V8 which pushes out 291kW and 556Nm.
Long-rumoured Wrangler-based pick-up finally confirmed with badass name.
Price $60,000 (estimated)
Rivals: Ram 1500, Ford Ranger Wildtrak, Mercedes X-Class
Due date: Late 2019
Details are light on the ground at the time of writing but Jeep’s late offering in the one-tonne market will bring a more style-focused option in a carpark occupied by many forgettable designs. What is known is that the Gladiator will be mechanically almost identical to the all-new Wrangler, which is known for its go-anywhere capability. Expect Jeep’s first ute in years to be an authority when the paved road ends.
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There’s no denying the Californian start-up tech company’s ability to surprise and produce notable vehicles in a relatively short development period. But seemingly ambitious statements from outspoken founder Elon Musk should also be taken with a grain of salt. And the same goes for Tesla’s plans to produce a pick-up or ute-like model. If one does eventuate, it’ll likely arrive with similarly record-breaking performance as the rest of its line-up. Emphasis on ‘if’.